Gay Marriage Hub




Chaos and Confusion in Kansas as Counties Make Their Own Decisions on Marrying Gay Couples

Confusion clouds the issue of marriage equality in Kansas, where a constitutional ban barring it was struck down by a federal court on November 4. The state sought a stay pending appeal from the 10th Circuit which denied it. The state then went to the U.S. Supreme Court with the same request. The request was temporarily granted, then denied by the full Court.

SchmidtNow, of the state's 105 counties, at least six are issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, others are refusing applications, and some (Ottawa and Saline) are taking applications but refusing to issue licenses, the Washington Post reports:

Jennifer Rapp, a spokesperson for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (pictured), said his office has asked the Kansas Supreme Court “to provide further guidance to the district courts in light of the federal preliminary injunction.”

“We are awaiting a decision on this case,” Rapp said in an email.

Schmidt suggested earlier this month in a statement that a decision in the case applied to Douglas and Sedgwick counties, where two lesbian couples were denied marriage licenses.

“I think the Kansas attorney general has abdicated his responsibilities,” Witt said. “If anybody is causing chaos and confusion … it’s the Kansas attorney general.”

The Kansas Supreme Court is mulling Schmidt's request:

The Kansas court was reviewing a petition from state Attorney General Derek Schmidt, hoping to block marriage licenses for same-sex couples until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on whether the state’s ban on gay marriage is constitutional. The court discussed the case in a closed meeting, and spokeswoman Lisa Taylor couldn’t say when it would issue a ruling.

...Court spokeswoman Lisa Taylor said Monday that retired Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone and retiring Linn County District Judge Richard Smith are sitting with the court.

Meanwhile, gay couples are marrying in Topeka and 15 couples married on the steps of the Sedgwick County Courthouse in Wichita.

And a judge today ordered that couples be allowed to get married in Cherokee, Crawford and Labette counties.

Butler, Elk and Greenwood are among those not issuing licenses.

We'll keep you informed of this developing situation...


Is Pope Francis Sending Ambiguous Messages About Marriage And Family?

PopePope Francis kicked off the Vatican's "traditional marriage" summit this week with a discussion on the state of marriage and the family in today's world - with some potentially mixed messages. In Francis' address, “The Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage,” he reinforces the idea of marriage and family, but it seems he might also be ambiguously referring to gay couples in several passages throughout the commentary, or at least one could deduce that he is from particular words used.

The basis of the address is based on the term "Complementarity," which means "situations where one of two things adds to, completes, or fulfills a lack in the other.” However, Francis puts the word in a Christian context.

He says:

"Christians find its deepest meaning in the first Letter to the Corinthians where Saint Paul tells us that the Spirit has endowed each of us with different gifts so that-just as the human body's members work together for the good of the whole-everyone's gifts can work together for the benefit of each (cf. 1 Cor. 12)."

Francis explains that the complementarity between women and men is the root of marriage and family, but the only other explicit mention of specific pairings between men and women doesn't occur until the very end of the address. Francis also seems to challenge traditional gender roles and recognize the suffering of women.

He continues:

"When we speak of complementarity between man and woman in this context, let us not confuse that term with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern.

"Evidence is mounting that the decline of the marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of other social ills, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly. It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis."

It's unclear what social ills Francis is referring to but with his support for civil unions and taking responsibility for sexual abuse scandals within the church, Francis' views on LGBT people and the church makes him the most progressive, socially responsible pope to take office thus far. The most telling passage of Francis' commentary is the discussion of future generations and the trappings of ideological concepts.

He says:

"It is important that they do not give themselves over to the poisonous mentality of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern: this must be done. With regard to this I want to say one thing: Let us not fall into the trap of being qualified by ideological concepts.

"Family is an anthropological fact - a socially and culturally related fact. We cannot qualify it with concepts of an ideological nature, that are relevant only in a single moment of history, and then pass by. We can't speak today of a conservative notion of family or a progressive notion of family: Family is family! It can't be qualified by ideological notions. Family has a strength of its own (per se)."

However, Francis ends his address with a reinforcement about marriage between men and women as a natural, unique and fundamental good, and it's unclear whether the statement about ideological trappings means Francis is willing to think beyond religious dogma, is just a simple contradiction on his behalf or an attempt to find a delicate balance between traditional ideological teachings and empathy toward the plights of LGBT people. Additionally, the fact that he invited hate leader Tony Perkins to the summit seems damaging to both his and the summit's credibility. 


Gay Couples in South Carolina Prepare to Marry on Thursday; State's Request for Stay Still Pending

Gay couples in South Carolina are prepared to begin marrying on Thursday at noon, which is when the stay in U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel's ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban expires.

SouthcarolinaLast week after Gergel struck down the ban, Attorney General Alan Wilson filed an emergency stay request asking for the court's order to be halted pending an appeal to the full Fourth Circuit, or, if denied, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorneys for plaintiffs Colleen Condon and her fiancee Nichols Bleckley filed their response to Wilson's request late Sunday, The Post and Courier reports:

"Currently 34 states permit same-sex couples to marry, or recognize marriages legally celebrated by same-sex couples in other states. If history is any indicator, the State's claim of potential harm here is overstated, if not completely contrived," the new filings says.

Malissa Burnette, lead attorney in Condon's case, has said she feels very optimistic the Fourth Circuit will uphold Gergel's ruling. It is the same court that struck down Virginia's constitutional gay marriage ban and was among those that triggered the recent cascade of legalized same-sex marriage across the nation.

The Fourth Circuit could rule on Wilson's request for an emergency stay at any time.

SCOTUS has also already turned down an appeal request from Virginia in its marriage case, and all the other states in the Fourth Circuit have marriage equality, so it would be a strange and troubling move for the Court to grant Wilson's request.


ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Nebraska's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 2.11.23 PM

14 years ago, Nebraska voters overwhelmingly approved a ban on gay marriage. Today, the local branch of the ACLU is filing a lawsuit for seven long-term LGBT couples seeking state recognition of their unions. Six of the couples have been married in other states where marriage is now legal, including the lead plaintiffs Sally and Susan Waters. Their case is unusually pressing as Sally Waters (pictured on the right) has been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

“It’s a fairly gloomy outcome that I’ve got ahead of me,” said Sally. “That made it extra clear that not having our marriage recognized in Nebraska was going to be a hardship for our family.”

When Sally dies, her partner will not be eligible for Social Security benefits to take care of their three children. Also, Nebraska's inheritance tax could cause financial stress for the family as well; it's a whooping 18% for non-relatives but just 1% for spouses. The couple, who've been together for more than 20 years, are hoping that with recent rulings across the country and at the Supreme Court, this time their effort will be successful before their time runs out.

In an interview with the Lincoln Journal Star, the couple note that even in a conservative state like Nebraska, the law is lagging far behind how their friends and neighbors have treated them. "I’m not experiencing Nebraska as anything but tolerant and welcoming to our family," said Susan. "The coolness is in the law, not the people.”  

Not surprisingly, the state's Republican governor Dave Heineman sees things a bit differently, stating he will fight any attempts to overturn the ban. “Let me also remind everybody, marriage has always been a state’s issue,” he said today in response to the ACLU filing. “We should reflect the values and beliefs of the citizens of Nebraska, which I have absolutely no doubt remains firmly committed that marriage is between a man and woman.”

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Peter Bataillon, the same judge who heard a 2003 challenge to the law. Bataillon tossed out the ban, but Nebraska officials appealed and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban. 

Photo courtesy Jason M. McClaren


Kansas City Homeless Shelter Refuses To House Married Same-Sex Couples Together

CityUnionMission

A Kansas City homeless shelter says it won't house same-sex couples together even if they're legally married in the state of Missouri.

The 90-year-old City Union Mission, in the heart of downtown Kansas City, provides shelter to up to 550 people every night, including families and children.

Dan Doty, City Union Mission's executive director, told The Kansas City Star that the shelter's board has had discussions about housing same-sex couples together over the years but has decided to "stay true to our biblical convictions."

Doty“I knew this day would come, especially when the media would begin asking that question,” Doty said, deeply concerned about what effect the nonprofit’s decision could have on its broad community support and donations. “I truly hope you understand the can of worms this could open.

“…We are a Christian, faith-based organization that really does adhere to biblical standards. Our view is that it (same-sex marriage) is inappropriate. Our intent is not to shelter same-sex couples together.”

The article explains that because City Union Mission is a religiously affiliated organization that receives no government funding, it is not bound by nondiscrimination laws. Doty said City Union Mission will house gays and lesbians individually, but requires transgender people to dress according to their birth sex when they're in the facility.

Same-sex couples who want to be housed together will be referred to other facilities. Representatives from local Salvation Army and Catholic Charities shelters told The Star they will house married same-sex couples together, while another shelter in Topeka said it's still undecided on the issue.

In related news, KSHB Channel 4 reported last week that City Union Mission is facing a $300,000 budget shortfall and is banking on a generous holiday giving season to make up for the deficit. 

But after Sunday's story in The Star about City Union Mission's decision not to house same-sex couples together, the shelter probably shouldn't count on getting much help from the LGBT community or its supporters. 

"So, you discriminate against gays now," Chris Jozwiak wrote on the shelter's Facebook page. "Sounds fine. You'll be doing so without support of my friends and family moving forward. And I'll make sure and pass on the news as often and loudly as possible so others join me. Jesus didn't stop and question people about who they loved before he helped them. You're apparently not worthy."

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article3971676.html#storylink=cthat because

Michigan and Kentucky Plaintiffs Ask Supreme Court to Review Sixth Circuit Ruling Upholding Gay Marriage Bans

Scotus

Joining plaintiffs in Ohio and Tennessee who have filed similar petitions with the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs at the center of the cases challenging Kentucky and Michigan's gay marriage bans are asking the high court to take up the Sixth Circuit's anti-equality ruling. 

The Associated Press reports:

...Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has declined to defend the state ban and Gov. Steve Beshear has hired private attorneys to represent the state. The Ohio appeal focuses on the state’s refusal to recognize out-of-state gay marriages because of its own ban, while the Tennessee case is narrowly focused on the rights of three same-sex couples.

Detroit Free Press reports on the significance of the April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse's Michigan case:

While it remains uncertain which case -- if any -- the U.S. Supreme Court decides to take, here are some elements that make the Michigan case unique:

* There was an actual trial on the same-sex marriage issue in Michigan, whereas in other states, judges issued decisions after reading written arguments, with no cross examination of any witnesses or experts.

* Two, the Michigan plaintiffs aren't just seeking legal recognition for same-sex couples who were married in other states, but are actually fighting to make gay marriage legal in Michigan by challenging a voter-approved ban on it.

Michigan* Three, the Michigan plaintiffs also have children they are raising together — a key issue in the same-sex marriage debate. Those fighting to legalize gay marriage argue families are being harmed when same-sex parents aren't legally recognized, while traditional marriage advocates argue that children thrive best when raised by moms and dads and that it's too early to tell if same-sex parenting is a good idea or not.

* Four, the state of Michigan is actively seeking to keep same-sex marriage illegal, whereas in other states, officials have opted not to pursue appeals once a federal judge has spoken on the issue. That didn't happen at the conclusion of Michigan's same-sex marriage trial.

DOMA lawyer Mary Bonauto has also joined the Michigan legal team. 

Here are the briefs courtesy of Equality Case Files

[photo via screenshot]


Trending



Towleroad - Blogged